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About Us

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Riverside Naturally is a community group that works to develop Riverside's open spaces in environmentally friendly ways. 


Riverside Naturally works in the area covered by Riverside Community Council in Stirling. This includes both Riverside, a residential area, and Forthside, a commercial area. It is bounded by the river Forth and the mainline railway line.  We often work in partnership with Stirling Council.

Riverside Naturally developed from the Riverside Community Orchard and continues to develop and maintain the orchard.  It was formed early in 2019 after discussion of the Scottish Wildlife Trust publication Living Cities: towards ecological urbanism, -


and shares the view that natural spaces bring important health, social, environmental and economic benefits to communities – as well as a lot of fun, enjoyment and friendship. In other words, making Riverside a better place for nature also makes it a better place for people.

Riverside Naturally is a SCIO - Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Membership is open to people who live, work or have an interest in Riverside and support its aims. It is free but a donation towards the costs of planting and maintenance is always welcome. 

Riverside Naturally is welcoming and inclusive - you don’t need any particular expertise to be a valuable member.

Our Story

Large streams from little fountains flow, Tall oaks from little acorns grow…

Riverside’s Stirling Success by Pat Morrissey

Earlier this year we were asked to contribute to the Scottish Pollinator Blog - you can read about all the different activities and groups working hard to protect our pollinators here.

I suppose it’s almost a truism that no tree dies without giving: nutrients are returned to the soil, invertebrates benefit from the breakdown of tissue, and a whole new biodiverse environment can be created if the wood isn’t carted away, shredded or burned. But what if the death of a tree gave birth to local environmental ecological activism that resulted in many more trees being planted, orchards being developed and maintained, wildflower meadows, woodland gardens and other areas being managed for the benefit wildlife and thereby the benefit of people? Wouldn’t that be wonderful offspring?

This is exactly what happened in Riverside in Stirling in 2019. A beautiful mature red oak was taken down much to the displeasure of local residents and, prompted by discussions around the Scottish Wildlife Trust publication “Living Cities”, a group was formed to enhance the locality to make it a better place for people, by making it a better place for nature: Riverside Naturally was born. 

In the two- and a-bit years of its existence RN has, in consultation with local partners, redesigned and replanted raised beds in the area with plants specially chosen for their appeal to pollinators. A range of annuals and perennials were grown to give a season-long source of food and shelter. Six different species of bees, innumerable hoverflies, many butterflies (and a few wasps) have been spotted feeding, resting and mating in these newly created spaces. The raised beds have been replicated in the local primary school which has resulted in opportunities to engage with staff and pupils ensuring that the children are aware of the need to support pollinators and how to provide it.

We also maintain the local community orchard which provides food for pollinators and for the local community: we have over twenty fruit trees in this site. Volunteers help maintain the orchard – weeding, pruning and composting the cuttings and grass. The trees derive a reciprocal benefit from the bees and other insects and all of our trustees, members and volunteers reap the rewards of working closely with nature and learning about the cycle of giving and receiving in the environment. In the years prior to the Covid pandemic we have held Orchard Days where members of the public are invited to share the fruits of our labours and learn of the vital roles played by plants and animals in maintaining a healthy planet. 

The charity has also converted two neglected formal garden areas in Riverside Park, removing sick and unproductive plants, and replacing them with native species of trees, shrubs and ground cover to create woodland gardens which, especially in the Springtime, will give early sources of nectar to those bugs which are active at that time of year. As this work progresses more planting will help sustain these vital insects through the year.

We also have worked in partnership with Stirling Council to designate an area around the river bank as an Area of Restorative Kindness (ARK) where the land has been planted with native species, and then only lightly maintained to allow nature to thrive at its own pace. However, to give it the best start possible we have planted seven oaks and a rowan with additional native plants scheduled for introduction in the coming months.

Meet Our Trustees

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Mary Graham


Mary joined Riverside Naturally in 2020 and has lived in Riverside for 25 years. 


Mary has many years of gardening experience and is devoted to biodiversity with a particular interest in encouraging and protecting native plants. She has also trained as a community herbalist, so if you've been stung by a nettle or a bee she'll find you a plant to help ease the pain.


Gillian Armstrong


Gillian joined Riverside Naturally in 2020 to be involved with something in Riverside.


Gillian helped out in the Orchard once or twice and did a bit of digging in one of the D’s but finds the physical stuff a bit challenging, so her main involvement is as the Treasurer.


Gillian has been part of the Riverside Community for over forty years, but was away for twelve during that time.


Gillian fully supports all that Riverside Naturally has been doing to enhance the area and encouraging biodiversity and takes particular interest in investigating and logging all species of plants and mini beasts found.

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Drew Oliver


Drew joined Riverside Naturally in 2019 to make a contribution toward the enhancement the green spaces in Riverside.


Drew is a professional ecologist and is keenly aware of the threats to biodiversity both at a local and landscape scale.  Drew is passionate about protecting wildlife as well as enhancing green spaces (and grey ones too!) to improve biodiversity.


Drew lives in Riverside with his wife Kate and dog Broc.


Imogen Scott

Vice Chair

Imogen joined Riverside Naturally in 2021, a couple of years after moving to the area. Having read the signs about plants and wildlife on her walks, she thought RN would be a good place to learn more - and it was!

Imogen is an instructional designer for online courses, often covering subjects around environmental issues. Her work is desk based and she welcomes the opportunity to get out and dig holes that need to be dug, give the apple trees a haircut, or tackle the wild strawberry network that thrives in the woodland wonderland. She loves meeting butterflies and getting to know the many interesting people at the volunteering sessions. Her favourite plant is a fern.

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Emily McLaughlin


Emily joined the Riverside Naturally in 2019 with the commitment to nurture and protect Riverside's green spaces.


Bringing enthusiasm and a trowel, Emily proves that you don't need specialist knowledge and skills to contribute and make a difference.

Emily lives in Riverside with her husband and children and enjoys bringing her children along to help out too.

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Parvin Morissey


Parvin has lived in Riverside for 17 years and is a retired life sciences lecturer and enjoys all things outdoors.

There is a strong community spirit in Riverside and Parvin loves to see examples of community building based on a shared concern for the environment.

It is great to see local residents and visitors enjoying the many projects which Riverside Naturally has established in the neighbourhood.


It's Your Neighbourhood

Riverside Naturally has been a part of the It's Your Neighbourhood initiative, run by Keep Scotland Beautiful for three years. It is a community environmental improvement initiative which is managed in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society. 

Each year we have been visited by a representative of the organisation and shared our activities and achievements in relation to the Three Pillars of It's Your Neighbourhood:
  • Community Participation
  • Environmental Responsibility
  • Gardening Achievement

We have greatly enjoyed each visit and appreciate the feedback, advice and enthusiasm of the assessors.  After each visit a report is complied which highlights our successes and offers suggestions for our next year.  
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We are proud and delighted to announce that in 2023 we were awarded the

OUTSTANDING with Distinction

certificate of achievement. 


You can find the report below.

*2020 - no assessment due to COVID restrictions

Our assessor Mo with Mary and Emily

Who is involved?

Riverside Naturally is made up of people who love Riverside, you can be a resident of the area or you can simply be keen to get involved.

There is a range of people involved - some with experience in environmental issues and others who are  enthusiastic and want to get involved.

Locals volunteer as trustees and work along side the Riverside community who attend our our events, volunteer  with out maintenace sessions and donate to help fund our efforts.

Who Are RN
Need To Know

Do you have to know how to garden to join Riverside Naturally?


In fact one of the best things about Riverside Naturally is that there are a lot of people who are very knowledgeable in all things green and are delighted to share information and support you.

There may be other skills and knowledge that you have that will be very welcome.


What does it mean to be a member of Riverside Naturally?

Being a member of Riverside Naturally means you will get information on events and volunteering opportunities.  You will receive our regular e-bulletin and you will be entitled to attend the Annual General Meeting.

Membership is free and is available to anyone aged 16+ who supports the work of Riverside Naturally which is to make Riverside a better place to live by making it a better place for nature.

How do I join Riverside Naturally?

Visit this page and complete the form, it's that easy!


What does 'Biodiversity' mean and why is it important?


Biodiversity is the term given to describe the wide variety of living creatures including plants, mini-breasts as well as lager creatures, such as us!  It includes the life found in your garden and local green spaces.  

Biodiversity is important because each living creature fills an important role in balancing our ecosystem. 

We believe that if we make choices that support and promote biodiversity in Riverside's green spaces we help the plant and we enhance our area for all the living creatures that call it home.

Further Information:  Biodiversity Explained


What does 'native species' mean?


A native species is generally understood as one that has thrived in that area for thousands of years and has strong associations with local wildlife.

Native plants support significantly more wildlife as they have adapted to all the local conditions - weather, soil, wildlife.


Why did you cut down trees?


We understand that cutting down trees seems at odds with our pledge to protect and enhance our green spaces.  

If we ever take the hard decision to remove trees it will be based on a few considerations:


Diseased - Sometimes trees can become diseased and may have to be removed for public safety and to contain the spread of the disease.


Overcrowding – in the case of the Northern Woodland Garden a lot of the trees were self seeded which resulted in over crowding and a lot of trees fighting for the same resources.

Biodiversity – A thriving woodland space will have a variety of trees, shrubs and plants that are adapted to those conditions. 


We would like to assure you it is our aim to plant even more trees around Riverside, ensuring that we choose the right tree for the right place.  

Further information:  Woodland Gardens    Trees

Cut Down

What do you mean by invasive species?

An invasive species is a one that overwhelms and effectively eradicates many other species.

This is problematic because a thriving ecosystem needs to include a variety of plants, this attracts a diverse range of creatures which is our aim.  

Riverside has two species in particular that are invasive - Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed.


Why do you want to weed out the pretty pink flowers along the river?


This plant is called Himalayan Balsam.   This is considered an Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) - this means it is illegal to cause it to spread which makes the removal of more complicated.  


It grows abundantly very quickly and doesn't give other plants a chance to grow.  It has a very effective seed dispersal system where it can shoot pods up to seven metres away.  The seeds are also swept down the river which spreads it even further.   


An effective way to control the spread of this plant is to pull up the roots and allow the plant to dry out and die in the same location before it has set seed.  If seeds have already set their spread will be limited.


But if the bees really like it, does it matter?

We love bees - it is important that they have nectar across the year, not just when this plant is in flower.   

Our planting always considers the benefit to wildlife, including bees.


Can you sort out the Giant Hogweed?


Giant Hogweed grows in abundance around Riverside, and in particular on the riverbanks. 

This plant is problematic because of it's toxic sap and we would advise against anyone to touching Giant Hogweed.  It requires specialists to remove it.

Stirling Council has a programme to address this issue though the spread of the Giant Hogweed has got worse over the months of lockdown and the restrictions on the grounds teams and the stretched resources due to the Coronavirus crisis.

As a priority they are addressing any plants found in public spaces and when guidelines and resources allow they

will deal with the plants on the riverbank.  

Chery Blossom

Why are the Cherry Blossoms being cut down?


The decision to take down the Cherry Blossom trees is made by Stirling Council. 


Sadly, many of these trees are reaching the end of their life span and are dying and/or diseased. 


An added factor is that these trees line a very popular path and Stirling Council will not risk these trees falling and hurting someone.


These trees will be replaced ,as they have done so in previous years and will continue to do into the future.

We have been very fortunate to be able to use these trees - we are using the bark for a new path and a log pile in the Woodland Wonderland, the trunks are being added to the stumpery and made into seats in the willow arbour in the Story Garden.

Project Map

Find a little about each area that we are working on.

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